Wendy's is mixing a new product message, a long-term value play and retro humor in an online push aimed at getting value diners to trade up.
The third-largest hamburger chain has had a solid hit with its 4 for $4 meal, which features a sandwich, nuggets, fries and a drink, which started in October 2015. Since then, competition has heated up, including McDonald's McPick 2 plays (often priced at $5), along with a mix of $5 boxes from KFC, Taco Bell, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's. And let's not forget Burger King's 2 for $6 Whopper promotion.
Now Wendy's is upping the ante, doubling the beef, bacon and cheese in its best-selling burger, the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. The JBC, as it's often referred to by the company, has been on the menu since 1989.
"We sell more JBCs than any other hamburger that we sell at our restaurants," says Chief Concept and Marketing Officer Kurt Kane. "It's an extremely popular sandwich."
When a member of Wendy's cross-functional hamburger team (of course, Wendy's would have its own hamburger team) was dining at one of the chain's restaurants, he said he wanted a little more after a 4 for $4 meal with a JBC. The idea was born for something bigger. The Giant Jr. is priced about $1 higher than a standard JBC, and with nuggets, fries and drink it's $5.
For now, the burger is having a limited run, but could become a permanent addition to the menu. "It depends on what customers have to say about it in terms of its popularity," Kane says.
It's too early to know how the Giant Jr. is affecting results, but in August Wendy's said it still expects North American same-store sales to rise 2 to 3 percent this year, after a 1.6 percent gain in 2016. Such sales rose 3.2 percent in the second quarter, while McDonald's U.S. same-store sales rose 3.9 percent and Burger King posted a 3 percent increase.
Giant Jr. Marketing
The product is getting plenty of creative attention as Wendy's pokes fun at the name Giant Jr. The newest online video, set to break today, imagines things someone would have enjoyed as a kid but fit for an adult, and centers around a Big Wheels-type ride called the Blazin' Street Burner.
Hero Solutions, a fabrication shop in Chicago, worked on the extra-large ride, knee pads, helmet and thermos in the newest spot. "It's one of the craziest things we've worked on," owner/operator Jay Neander said as he put some of the finishing touches on the vehicle at his company's workshop in September.
An online video that came out in late August features the same characters in a throwback to toy ads from the late 80s or early 90s, and was more of a way to introduce the Giant Jr. name.
There's also a more traditional TV spot that is still very focused on the name.